Dangerous Compassions

news from a clam: trauma response, beautiful necklace, the illusion of security

I was feeling like a turtle, then I switched to feeling like a clam–clammed up, totally closed, self-contained.  Happy as a clam, alone and wanting to stay still in darish places.  Needing to stay still in darkish places.

Yesterday afternoon I was in bed, lying on my side, doing nothing.  I knew it was almost time to go to community lunch.  I didn’t want to go at all and tried to think of how to get out of it.  Lying there, doing nothing, was the best thing in the world.

I can force myself to interact with people, but I take my clam-ness with me.  I can have moments of slight openness, but I don’t need things or offer much–solid and hard-shelled.

I usually walk around with a pretty open heart, trying to be with people in an authentic way, reacting, smiling, feeling.  Right now, I can’t really do that.

“Is it ok, to be a clam?” I asked Ming.  He said yes.  I feel it’s temporary, an experiment.  I can do it for a while.

I’m not sleeping enough, but trying to do the things–eat, drink, take a shower.  Yesterday I danced a bit, listening to Prince on youtube.  Today I’ll go to the doctor in the morning and in the afternoon see friends to celebrate two birthdays.

Why do we buy the things we buy?  There’s food we mostly have to buy.  I don’t have an avocado tree, so I need to buy avocados.  I can get some stuff free, but not produce or special things like nutritional yeast.

I see a lot of necklaces I like, but mostly I think I already have enough necklaces, it’s too expensive, it’s not right in some way.  Or I don’t deserve a beautiful thing.  It would be wasted on me.

Birthdays and gifts of money can help me feel like buying a certain thing for myself is possible.  I was on etsy looking for something else, can’t remember now, and this necklace came up.  It was $25, free shipping, and it arrived in the mail yesterday.

I can string beads and make this or that simply, but a true artist did this one.  My favorite color combinations, nice clasp, good length for me, amazing rock at the bottom.

Last night I went to a women’s support group meeting, and the facilitator handed out a paper with a list of 37 categories of symptoms of a certain trauma.  At first I felt like I didn’t want to read the paper–I can read lists at home.

Then I looked at the list and saw that I experience or have experienced all of the symptom categories except three.  I didn’t like seeing that.

I spent many years saying, “It wasn’t so bad.”  Sometimes people tell me I’m an inspiration, that I can function so well considering my mental health issues.  I always dismiss that praise as silly.

Other women were saying this or that symptom they had, or that they wished they had a highlighter to mark which ones they had.  A highlighter wouldn’t have been appropriate for me because you’re not supposed to highlight the entire page.

I told Ming I needed a paint roller.  I imagined dipping the roller in paint and rolling the whole page bright yellow.  I made that motion in the air.

Some of them are really common, like self-esteem issues and trust issues.  Others were kind of a shock to see on the list, such as wishing to be invisible.  I wanted that for decades, never heard it was a trauma response, but it makes sense.  Another weird one was avoiding mirrors.  I don’t like to look in mirrors now, usually, but it’s nothing compared to the ten years I so I didn’t look into them at all.

“Why didn’t you look into mirrors?” Ming asked me.

I never thought about why.  I didn’t like how it felt, I didn’t want to see me–I didn’t want to admit I existed, really.  I was kind of pretending I didn’t exist.  Isn’t that odd?  It was a while ago, but suppose it could still matter.

The three symptom categories I don’t have are high risk taking or inability to take risks, stealing / fire-starting, and compulsive honesty or dishonesty.  Yay–three things aren’t wrong with me.

I was fixating on the list, then told Ming how there are all different ways to conceptualize experiences and behavior.  Right now, I’m sitting at my desk, typing some words, listening to windchimes outside, and drinking vanilla dandelion tea.

The desk is hella messy, but right now I’m not doing a pathological thing.  Right?   Maybe this blog is a bit obsessive, but not in a bad way.  I think it’s therapeutic–I do it for Ming and Mom and maybe a few other people, and those who stumble by, and myself, like a journal in a way.

I mean to say, I could have some pathological behaviors in my past distant or near, but every moment, I’m choosing what to do, and most moments, I’m doing ok things and feeling ok.  So the list could be interesting to see, but it’s just a tool, to pick up and use, then put down.

A lot of mental health groups, people just want to be normal.  “See me as normal,” they say.  They want to have a good job, a family, and all the normal things–a retirement plan, children, to put the crazy behind them.

So I don’t feel it’s really for me because I’m not normal, have never felt normal, and want extraordinary things.  The crazy is with me always and not necessarily a problem.  I’m not having kids of my own, I don’t have prospects for a full-time job, and looks like the retirement plan isn’t happening.  Accumulating money isn’t my life goal.  Security is an illusion anyway.

So radical groups are better for me, but I do want to show up and not forget how to talk with regular people.  Also, I believe I’m a cool resource and example, so I can bring my goodness into a group and be an outlier and be ok with that.

Well, I mostly didn’t say anything, at the meeting last night.  But I always hope just being there, nodding at this or that, bringing my energy to the room is something.  My listening, my style of being.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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